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After years of eschewing the gun world into which her husband has delved, and delved deeply, Dan’s wife JZ has the long rage shooting bug. Bad. And that’s good! The former St. Louis utility CFO has found her happy place. Of course, before she got behind the trigger, Dan taught her the Four Rules of Gun Safety. And now she’s devised what she thinks is a better way to remember them:

F   Finger off the trigger (until your sights are on the target)
A   Always loaded (guns are)
S   Safe direction (keep the gun pointed in)
T   Target (know it and what’s beyond it)

Jan’s gift to us. Thank you, Jan.

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  1. When I introduced my wife to firearms, she liked pistol shooting, but she loved rifles. She now has a Ruger American and Ruger Precision in .308. When we head to the range, she will shoot 6 boxes of .308 while I am hammering away on my ARs. We are looking into something in 6.5 Creedmoor for her next rifle.

  2. That’s not bad, actually… I got them in a different order, but that’ll work in a pinch. Over the years, though, I have had to add a 5th rule, which is helpful to all, but particularly new shooters:

    5. Don’t guess. If you are unsure about the fire controls of a particular weapon that is unfamiliar to you, don’t guess– ask. Safeties, decockers, slide releases, selectors, take-downs, magazine releases, and even hammers do not all look or function the same on all firearms. So ask, don’t guess.

    And yeah, hammers… like, a Daewoo/Lionheart for example.

    Be safe. Tonight is “dumdums shooting up in the air night” in Tucson.

    • Got a text 2hrs ago from a buddy in Baghdad, saying Happy New Year. He said he walked outside and all he heard was small arms fire from people shooting up in the air.

      • Here in Baghdad, that’s a typical night. When their football (soccer) team wins a game, we have to “Duck and Cover”.

  3. well, bust mah britches.

    that there is one good woe-man.

    dan, cheaper to keep ‘er. doncha let this-un get away.

  4. I actually prefer trigger finger as #1. The odds are really high that the gun will not discharge if the trigger is not pressed.

  5. Agreed, good job. IMO most folks are more apt to remember a short acronym like FAST vs. “Here are the ten rules…. blah, blah, blah”.

    • The third rule would be a close second. I noticed the Yoda connection immediately.

      For myself, I’ve used a one word summary for each rule, and I memorized that, which helped me remember the rules by heart.

      Loaded Muzzle Trigger Target

  6. I love it and I’m going to start teaching my students the FAST method. New students have to try hard to remember the 4 steps and this will make it very easy. Great Job!!!

  7. That’s really smart and about guaranteed that she won’t forget the rules. There’s a concept in psychology, sometimes called the “Learning Pyramid”, but known by other names, too, in that and other disciplines. It relates a student’s retention rate of subject matter to the means of instruction. Starting from the top, generally accepted retention rates a day after learning would be:

    5% from a lecture
    10% from reading
    20% from audio/visual
    30% from demonstration
    50% from discussion group
    75% from practice
    90% from teaching someone else

    Developing her own mnemonic device for the four rules is a form of teaching others, and an exceptional one, at that. No way she’ll forget the rules now.

    Obviously, this all depends on the individual, the subject matter, the quality of the instruction method, and umpteen other variables. The point is, though, that the more you actually “live” the material, the more it becomes an organic and permanent type of knowledge. For example, you’ll never forget the word “pear” in English, because you learned that word inside and out through life experiences of the smells, tastes, textures, etc. of pears going all the way back to infancy.

    Alternately, the more you merely attach the material to your memory, the more it is an artificial and temporary sort of knowledge. That’s why it’s so difficult to learn a foreign language as an adult. Those words you just memorize as a code, converting each one mechanically in your mind to and from the English word, but without living those new words. Quick! Think back to your high school foreign language class: what’s the word for “pear” in that language? No idea? Exactly.

    Great work, Mrs. Dan.

  8. The problem with rearranging these rules is the continuity gets lost in the process. In my experience, the continuity itself is the way to remember the rules;
    1. All guns are loaded. This is number one because it starts before a strange firearm is even touched. One must assume it is loaded, for until it is checked, its status is unknown.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover what you are not willing to destroy. This is #2 because the strange firearm is now in hand, and its status should be known. Once in the hand… do NOT point it at people! [even if the chamber HAS been checked!]
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. This is three because the firearm is now in the process of being aimed; and firing a round is next…
    4. Know the target and what lies beyond it. This is #4 because the sights are now on the target, finger on the trigger, and a round is to be fired. But still be sure of your target, and whatever else is behind it in case of full penetration.

    IMO, if the continuity of these rules is understood, it is then every bit as easy to remember as an acronym, and much better, because they now will make sense, rather than just be memorized by rote. Rote memorization is fine for certain things(alphabets, spelling, speeches and poems, etc), but in cases like firearms KNOWLEDGE is ever so much better than memorization.
    Not that I have anything against acronyms. Its just that it should retain the proper order.

  9. I like the idea, but I have to disagree with “Always loaded”. All guns are not always loaded. I understand the point you’re trying to make regarding safety, but it’s simply not accurate. You can, in fact, find yourself with an unloaded firearm when you actually need a loaded one (to deal with an attacker) if you don’t know the status of the weapon. Use COGNIZANT THOUGHT and KNOW the status of your weapon AT ALL TIMES. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever learned on firearms handling and safety. This came from a former Delta member that nearly got booted from SF selection when he was young (I really appreciated him sharing something so humbling to teach us) when he unknowingly entered a room with a unloaded carbine. He corrected that with a quick pull of the charging handle, but the Sgt Major caught that. Treating any weapon you pick up, or are handed, AS LOADED is spot on, but we need to KNOW the weapons status at ALL times.

  10. Thank You for simplifying the rules I’m just starting to teach two of my grandsons the basics and FAST will be easy for them to remember.

  11. For the more poetic minded:

    Finger away until it matters
    Always assume a loaded chamber
    Safely point to avoid the danger
    Targets and more beyond may shatter


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